GUEST COLUMN: Get a head start on applying to college

By PATRICIA KRAHNKE, guest columnist

As happens each year, I’ve been talking to anxious rising seniors and their parents around the United States, around the world and here in Brown County throughout the spring semester and summer.

College admissions season is hot on our heels, but there are a couple of ways to get a head start on college applications. If you begin these tasks now, this fall your anxieties will be greatly reduced.

Regarding financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), families may submit the application as early as Oct. 1, 2016. Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017-18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.

Those occasional lazy summer Sunday afternoons are a perfect time to visit and become familiar with the FAFSA form and all its requirements. If you wait until the chaos of the fall semester to explore the FAFSA, you will add unnecessary confusion and anxiety to a process that is inherently fraught with tension.

To access the FAFSA system, you will need an FSA ID in order to log in. You may apply for an FSA ID at any time, but the sooner the better, so when you’ve got a few hours to explore the form and requirements, you will be ready to rock. You can apply for an FSA ID at

Another financial form with which you should become familiar is the CSS Profile, which can be found at

This form was created by the College Board and is used by many colleges that desire much more detailed financial information from families than the FAFSA provides. Colleges use the CSS Profile together with the FAFSA to understand a family’s complete financial picture.

As with college application deadlines, the due dates for both the FAFSA and CSS Profile vary by college. It’s part of the complexity of the college application process that can add to anxiety if left until the last minute to explore and understand.

In Indiana, DePauw, Wabash, Notre Dame and a few foundation scholarship programs require submission of the CSS Profile.

Students applying to colleges outside Indiana should visit the CSS Profile website as well as the financial website of their colleges on their list to determine if and when they will be required to submit one.

Scholarship exploration is another way to get a jump on your college application season. Scholar Snapp, at, is connected to the Common App. It works much the same as the Common App, providing students a way of submitting information required by all scholarships, but allowing submission of different, scholarship-specific information via the same portal.

Another fantastic website for scholarship exploration is Scholly is the website I use to filter endless opportunities that have very specific requirements.

And of course, if you know the colleges to which you will be applying, dig out their scholarship offerings, determine your potential eligibility and put them on your list so you don’t forget about them.

Students who are 21st Century Scholars have their choice of Indiana schools, but private colleges such as Earlham or Hanover offer much less than full tuition off the total cost of attendance (COA); and students who attend an Indiana public college or university, though they may receive a 100 percent tuition discount, are still required to pay room and board, fees and books. These students still need scholarship money to cover as much of the COA as possible.

Got questions? Contact me at or 812-219-6001.

Brown County resident Patricia Krahnke is president of Global College Search Associates. She is a former assistant director of admissions at Rutgers University and former dean of admissions and marketing with the Vermont state colleges. She can be reached through